We are now going to look back at some cold winters that were not too severe overall but did have notable cold spells
We are going to look at winter 1995-96
December 1995 was the coldest December since 1981 with a CET of 2.3.
The month began mild and unsettled with rain and temperatures in double figures.
High pressure over Europe prevented the Atlantic systems from making much progress.
The weather changed on the 3rd as the high moved into Scandinavia and this allowed
an easterly flow to develop across Europe and the UK bringing with it colder weather with frosts,
low maxima and snow showers.
High pressure over Scandinavia then ridged across the UK on the 9th bringing with it settled weather with frosts at night although it was not quite as cold as during
the first week.
The high drifted to the north of Scotland on the 14th allowing the easterly to return to the south,
where it was very bleak under the leaden skies and a bitter wind.
Gradually the high migrated towards Greenland and Atlantic systems began to move up to the SW but these engaged a cold Arctic airmass that was moving southwards at the same time.
The first sytem brought rain to central and southern parts but as the Arctic airmass moved southwards it turned the rain to snow over the Midlands before the system cleared southwards on the 20th.
The next system pushed up from the south and this brought snowfalls to many parts of England and Wales before turning milder.
This system moved further north than it's predecessor and so the milder weather also got into Scotland.
In the south, it was wet but mild with temperatures into double figures but by the 23rd, the colder weather was returning to Scotland as the Arctic airmass plunged southwards to reach all parts by Xmas Eve.
During Xmas Eve night, a polar low approached northern Scotland and this gave the severest weather for the month.
There were severe blizzards and gales with drifting snow. The Shetlands was worst hit with depth of level snow at 35cm
and drifts well in excess of this. A state of emergency was declared on the Islands.
On the mainland, conditions were not quite as severe but there were power cuts across the far north.
A number of places had a White Xmas that year. With high pressure over the UK by Boxing Day, conditions became calm and clear but this would cause it's own problems. With deep snow cover, intense cooling occurred and very low minima were recorded.
Many parts of Scotland had minima down to below -20C and daytime maxima were very low, -10C was recorded at Glasgow.
At Altnaharra, a record equalling low of -27.2C was recorded on the morning of the 30th. Frosts were very severe and freezing fog added to the complications.
By the 30th, a low in the Atlantic slowly pushed up a front from the SW.
This front brought freezing rain to many parts of the south bringing with it travel chaos as sheet ice formed on roads and rails.
The progress of the front was very slow as it overcame the very cold air over the UK but by the 31st it had reached Scotland.
There was a slow thaw on the last day of the year with cloudy, misty conditons across many parts.
The first two thirds of January 1996 was dominated by largely mild southerly winds and lots of cloud.
This was due a large block over eastern Europe and a large low pressure over the Atlantic.
Maximum temperatures were in double figures and frosts were non existent.
A change in the weather pattern occured when the block began to ridge westwards into Scandinavia and the low pressures over the Atlantic began to sink southwards. An increasingly cold easterly flow became established over the UK.
By the 24th, maxima were close to freezing and there were severe penetrating frosts at night in the strong easterly wind.
Snow showers became heavier and more frequent in the east and these spread westwards by the 26th as a very cold pool air from the continent moved into the UK. On the evening of the 26th, very heavy snow showers and longer periods of snow moved into northern England bringing appreciable falls of several inches in places and drifting in the wind and bringing the usual transport problems.
Further south, the snowfalls were not as heavy and the snow cover disappeared overnight as a pool of
slightly warmer air moved across England. For the rest of the month, the winds were still in the east with frosts at night but the intense cold had disappeared and maxima were about 2 to 4C
The cold weather from late January 1996 continued into February as high pressure sat over the UK.
On the 6th, an occlusion system approached the west of the UK threatening a change to much milder
weather across the UK.
However, pressure began to increase to the east of the UK and this prevented the occlusion advancing and the system became stalled over the west of the UK on the evening of the 6th.
Heavy snowfalls fell right across western and central parts of the mainland but conditions were particularly severe in SW Scotland and parts of Cumbria, where depths of snow were approaching 50cm. A state of emergency was declared in SW Scotland and many drivers stranded on the A74 had to be rescued. Whitehaven in Cumbria was virtually cut off and workers at the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant had to spent the night as they were stranded. Conditions elsewhere were less severe but the inenvitable travel chaos ensued. By the evening of the 7th, the snow finally died out and it remained cold and snowbound
until the 9th with further snowfalls at times before a vigorous depression finally brough a thaw and milder temperatures.
The snowfalls of 6th/7th February turned out to be some of the heaviest in the west since the winter of 1947, whilst the far east largely missed out.
On the 18th February 1996, a low pressure near the NW of Scotland swung down into the southern North Sea and dragged down very cold NEly winds across the UK.
The airflow was very unstable and heavy snow showers broke out across many parts of the UK bringing temporary blizzards and whiteout conditions. In the SE, there was a lull during the afternoon but heavy snow showers moved into this region during the evening and there were blizzards across east Anglia during the night, where depths of snow reached 4". The strong winds caused coastal flooding in parts of the SE.
By the 20th, conditons had eased somewhat but there were snow showers still falling albeit lighter especially across the Midlands.
By the 21st, high pressure toppled down from the NW and most places were cold and fairly sunny.
Data for winter 1995-96
December 1995: 2.3 (-2.3)
January 1996: 4.3 (+0.5)
February 1996: 2.5 (-1.3)
Coldest spells of the winter
6th-11th December: 0.4
25th-31st December: -1.6
23rd January-9th February: -0.2
19th-22nd February: 0.8
Mildest CET maximum day: 11.4 3rd December
Coldest CET maximum day: -3.0 28th December
Coldest CET minimum night: -7.9C 29th December
Lying snow and falling snow respectively
Dec: 3, 7
Jan: 1, 3
Feb: 5, 9
Lying and falling snow respectively
Dec: 4, 12
Jan: 5, 7
Feb: 6, 14
Lying and falling snow respectively
Dec: 2, 9
Jan: 3, 5
Feb: 6, 12
Lying and falling snow repsectively
Dec: 9, 4
Jan: 2, 4
Feb: 5, 10